Minster urged to look at the Maternity Protection Bill

Minster urged to look at the Maternity Protection Bill
Sinn Féin County Councillor Danielle Twomey.

CORK county councillors have called on Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy to revisit the Maternity Protection Bill to allow female politicians to take maternity leave.

Under the Local Government Act public representatives absent from their post for more than six months are deemed resigned.

However, this does not account for cases of maternity leave.

Midleton-based councillor Danielle Twomey said the legislation is discriminatory.

"No matter what party a politician is a member of there is always an emphasis on having more women in the party,” she said.

“Under legislation we have we have a gender balance and I think it's only fair we have a fair playing ground for females and young females in politics.

"It's like saying, 'we want young women in our party, just don't have children'. I think the legislation is currently catering for public reps that are ill but it doesn't cater for women on maternity leave and I think this is discriminatory. I think it's conflicting with the Maternity Protection Bill that states that women are entitled to maternity leave.

“I'd ask the Minister to look at this again and reintroduce this to the Dail for debate. Female politicians should be eligible to take maternity leave and it would be wrong of me to not bring this up for future women entering into politics,' she added.

Bandon-Kinsale representative Rachel McCarthy believes the issue shouldn't be up for debate in 2017.

“We shouldn't even be discussing this. It's shocking that we are. We can talk about gender quotas and equality until the cows come home but in this job, it doesn't seem to matter.

“If you were to encourage a young woman into politics and say 'you're not going to be paid on your maternity leave', it sounds bizarre.

“If anybody else from any other industry said 'I'm going on maternity leave but I'm not going to be paid', I'd say that's an absolute outrage...it's shocking.

East Cork Independent Noel Collins said the Minister should move to ensure equality of rights for all.

“To use the old adage, the cock does all the crowing, but the hen must deliver the goods,” he said.

Cllr Deirdre Forde of Ballincollig-Carrigaline said there are a lot of problems keeping female perspective on policy nationally, locally and in European politics and said a change in the Local Government Act legislation would help a balanced perspective.

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